Living on or near a farm reduces risk of developing allergies - study
New research has found that exposure to farm environments during childhood reduces the risk of developing allergies.
It has also found that occupational farm exposures during adulthood may also prevent from atopic sensitisation.
Indeed beneficial effect of farm exposure may extend to inhabitants of rural areas since livestock farm emissions spread to the environment.
The Research puplished in the UK medical journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine investigated the association between residential proximity to livestock farms and atopy among non-farming adults living in a rural area in the Netherlands.
Most studies have been conducted among farmers, but people living in rural areas may have similar protective effects for atopy (allergy).
The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study among 2443 adults (20–72 years).
Residential proximity to livestock farms was assessed as 1) distance to the nearest pig, poultry, cattle or any farm, 2) number of farms within 500 m and 1000 m, and 3) modelled annual average fine dust emissions from farms within 500 m and 1000 m. Data were analysed with multiple logistic regression and generalised additive models.
The prevalence of atopy was 29.8pc.
Subjects living at short distances from farms (<327 m, first tertile) had a lower odds for atopy compared with subjects living further away (>527 m, third tertile) (OR 0.79, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.98).
Significant associations in the same direction were found with distance to the nearest pig or cattle farm.
The associations between atopy and livestock farm exposure were somewhat stronger in subjects who grew up on a farm.
The Researchers concluded that living in close proximity to livestock farms seems to protect against atopy (allergies).
They also say that this study provides evidence that protective effects of early-life and adult farm exposures may extend beyond farming populations.
How might this impact on policy or clinical practice in the foreseeable future?
Recent studies have highlighted the public health impact that may result from agricultural emissions.
This study is indicative of potential beneficial health effects when living in close proximity to livestock farms.
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